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Lessons in survival

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

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ADVENTURERS who laugh in the face of frostbite and scoff at scar tissue will take centre stage at Llanelli's Y Ffwrnes on March 8.

Polar trekkers, extreme kayakers, aged mountain men and speed climbers all feature in a festival of exhilarating and awe-inspiring films, running from 7.30pm.

All of the short films in the Banff Mountain Film Festival Tour tell gripping tales of daring, self-reliance and of grit, with some beautiful camera work on offer too.

One documentary which will have audiences raising eyebrows is Ernest, which sees 90-year-old Ernest Wilkerson, one of a vanishing breed of mountain men, do his damndest to keep his grip on an independent lifestyle in the face of advancing age and encroaching outside world.

A local legend in Monte Vista, Colorado, Wilkerson learned to fend for himself as a youngster, becoming a wildlife trapper, taxidermist, conservationist and teacher of back country survival skills.

His speciality is snow caves and, he says: "Your best survival tool is your brain.

"You can read all the books you want to on survival, but if you really apply common sense and improvise, your survival kit is what is naturally available."

Talking to camera while hacking out an ice shelter, he says: "I can dig a snow cave in my shirtsleeves and be dry by making a big hole then go ahead and close the entrance completely shut

"Let those blocks of snow metamorphise and stiffen — it is 20 below outside and it won't freeze in that snow cave."

While his lifestyle would be untenable to most of us, he feels nature is there for us to interact with rather than to watch from behind glass.

"I'm slow, I can't hold my teeth in, I can't hear and I don't see very good but I am still living and going.

"I feel that the younger generation is losing their touch with the outdoor environment. Get them out when they are young and get them interested in nature and you get that seed planted."

The Evening Post has three pairs of tickets to the festival to give away. For your chance to win a pair, just answer the following question.

In what US state does mountain man Ernest Wilkerson live?

Send your answers on a postcard, with your name, address and phone number to: Film Festival competition, Features Department, South Wales Evening Post, Adelaide Street, Swansea SA1 1QT. The closing date is Friday, March 1 and the winners will be the first 3 correct entries drawn at random. Standard Evening Post competition rules apply — See competition rules at www.thisis southwales.co.uk/houserules

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